Connection at Coffee

Why I’m an Unapologetic Baby Flirt

I’m sitting at a coffee shop in the mild Spring sunshine, sipping my guilty pleasure and responding to emails when a toddler walks by, hand stretched upward to grasp her mother’s. She looks at me and I smile, give a tiny wave. Her soft, round face breaks into a smile like morning sunrise, and my own widens. She gives a little wave as they walk past, mother engaged with her phone. When they get to the corner, she turns back and smiles again, and I wave, and she waves, and then she is gone.

My husband says I am an inveterate baby flirt. He’s right. There’s something so pure and sweet in the innocence of an emotionally unguarded, curious child. I want to be part of teaching these little ones that the world is a good and kind place, in these impressionable years where our core constructs about the world are being formed. I want these young spirits to hold on to that open-hearted confidence forever, to approach the world with the deeply rooted belief that there is goodness and there is kindness and they are worthy of it.

Perhaps I overthink these small exchanges because of my developmental psych training. These thoughts may matter less than the simplicity of a moment of human connection, whether with baby or child, peer, or slow-moving retiree.

And this is why I sit outside the coffee shop while I work, rather than in the quiet solitude of my vehicle when I have that hour to pass once each week between yoga and school pick-up. Because human connection matters. The smile as I hold the door for someone with their hands full, or the thank you as someone does the same for me, the opportunity to extend sincere warmth when I greet the hard-working barista – these micro-moments of connection remind me that I am a part of this amazing organism that is our planet, that we are all one, if we just pause to pay attention.

And you, my friend, as you read this, years beyond when your own arm stretched upward to hold hands of connection: did you learn that lesson? Do you know that you matter, that there is kindness and beauty and connection in this world, and that you are worthy to receive and participate in it? When you fully grasp this glorious truth, it becomes as natural as exhalation to spread that truth to those around you, too.

May you inhale the truth of your exquisite worth, and exhale love all around.

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